A lot was made heading into this week's meeting between the Eagles and Bills about the return of running back LeSean McCoy to Philadelphia. A native of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, McCoy grew up rooting for the Eagles, and after two stellar seasons at the University of Pittsburgh he was selected by Philadelphia in the second round of the 2009 Draft. Once in the pros, he quickly established himself as one of the best running backs in the league, rushing for a franchise-record 6,792 yards and 44 touchdowns in six seasons.
But after tying his worst mark in rushing efficiency (4.2 yards per carry) since his rookie campaign last season, McCoy was traded in March to Buffalo in exchange for linebacker Kiko Alonso. In his first game in Philadelphia as a member of the visiting team, the 27-year-old got off to a fast start, amassing 63 yards on 12 carries in the first half.
"In the first quarter he bounced a few back, and in the first half he bounced a few back, and (was able to) do what Shady do," said defensive end Fletcher Cox, who finished with a team-high eight tackles, two of which came behind the line of scrimmage, along with the team's lone sack.
"That 91 is a good player," Bills head coach Rex Ryan said of Cox. "I was laughing when I saw him being compared to Jerome Brown, but I'm not laughing now. The kid is a pretty good player."
A quick recap at some of the key players who powered the Eagles to their 23-20 win over the Bills. View the full gallery here...
But after halftime, the Eagles' defense clamped down on McCoy, attempting to keep him inside the tackles and restrict him from using his speed and shiftiness on the outside. Over the final 30 minutes of the game, he was held to just 11 yards on eight carries, finishing with 74 yards, his second-lowest total since Week 7.
His former teammate, left tackle Jason Peters, spoke after the game about the job Philadelphia's defense against McCoy.
"Our defense did a great job," he said. "You can't deny that he is a good running back. You let him get through that, he's going to duke and take it to the house. We did a great job containing him."
It was clear heading into the game that the Eagles made a point of slowing down McCoy, one of Buffalo's most talented offensive playmakers. But the team's plan had nothing to do with hard feelings, and everything to do with coming away with a much-needed win late in the season.
"Why would you take it personally," Cox asked incredulously, when a reporter inquired about added motivation playing a role against the former Eagle. "If you're taking anything personally, you've got a problem."
Defensive coordinator Bill Davis agreed with that sentiment, noting that stopping McCoy was one of three top priorities heading into the game, along with keeping wideout Sammy Watkins in check and containing quarterback Tyrod Taylor on third downs. He was generally happy with the performance of his unit, which held the Bills to 99 yards on 24 designed running plays.
"Shady was going to make a play. You knew that. They were going to hand it to him enough times that sooner or later he was going to pop out of there," Davis explained. "Our tackling was where it needed to be today. They had a lot of rushing attempts. If you take away the quarterback runs, it's probably about where you can keep a team that majors in the run."